If you have a question or comment about what you read in Scouting magazine or about something related to Scouting in general, we'd like to hear from you. Write to us at Scouting magazine, 1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane, P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079. Because of space limitations, we reserve the right to edit those letters we publish for length and clarity.
In the March-April 1998 issue, I was especially taken with "And the Winners Are...," which featured the top entries in Scouting magazine's 1997 "Promise of Adventure" photo contest.
It must have been a challenge to select the winning pictures, and I want to say that your final choices were right on. In their simplicity, the top winners say more than thousands of words can convey.
Is there a way to obtain copies, either electronic files or prints, of the winning photographs?
David H. S. Knorr
APO AE 09114
All 20 winning and honorable mention photographs appear in the Scouting magazine section of the official BSA Web site, in the article "And the Winners Are..." Like all material appearing in each issue of the magazine, the contest photographs are the property of Scouting magazine and cannot be reproduced for distribution without written permission. This is routinely granted, however, for use in an internal publication, like a pack or troop newsletter, or for external publicity, such as a recruiting pamphlet.
When permission is granted, a credit should be included citing the issue of the magazine in which the photograph (or other reproduced material) originally appeared.
In reading the letters in the March-April Scouting magazine, I found it sad that of all the admirable qualities and accomplishments mentioned in the October 1997 article on the Scouts of Loose Creek, Mo., so many leaders found those most deserving of comment were some minor uniforming anomalies appearing in the photos....
...If leaders want the magazine to show only pictures of Scouts in perfect uniform so as not to confuse their charges, then we'll see only fake, set-up shots. Gone will be images of real Scouts in real units, of jamborees, high adventures, and special events...I prefer to see Scouting's best as they are: rarely perfect, but always doing their best.
George J. Dolicker
Cubmaster, Pack 1
...Shame on you Scouters who chose to emphasize the negative rather than the positive. We are supposed to be building self-esteem and good leadership, not tearing Scouts down.
Chris A. Montgomery
Scoutmaster, Troop 921
...[Critics should] look beyond the uniform and into the heart of those Scouts and tell me they do not represent what is good about America. Let he who does not have a single Scout in his pack or troop improperly outfitted cast the first stone.
Twentynine Palms, Calif.
...We should remember that, although it should be worn properly, the uniform and all its cloth badges are ultimately of far less importance than the boys we are privileged to serve.
Steven P. Brown
...The point of the October article was that Troop 76 had successfully served the boys of its small community for many years. In what way do some uniform infractions outweigh that?
...When a Scout comes to a troop meeting wearing his uniform for the first time, I compliment him on how good he looks in it. I definitely don't criticize the fact that a few patches are sewn on crooked or in the wrong places....
...We should remember that the uniform is just one method we use to help achieve the three aims of Scouting, which are to build character, foster citizenship, and develop fitness, [and that] it is not the uniform, but what is inside the uniform, that makes a Scout.
Scoutmaster, Troop 180
The sampling of critical letters in the March-April issue was not meant to detract in any way from the accomplishments of the Scouts of Troop 76 or to overemphasize any specific insignia infractions, but rather to call attention to how seriously some Scouters take the finer points of correct uniforming.
However, as the responses above demonstrate, it is also important to remember that uniforming is just one of the eight methods (along with ideals, patrols, outdoors, advancement, personal growth, adult association, and leadership development) used to achieve the three aims of Scouting-character, citizenship, and fitness. (For more on uniforms and insignia, see this issue's Front Line Stuff column)
I have been Scoutmaster of Troop 14 for more than 45 years. Your recent profiles of two Scouters with more than 60 years of service prompt me to ask if records are kept of leader tenure. What is the longest unit leader tenure known?
San Francisco, Calif.
...As a youth I was both a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout. Now that my sons are Scouts, I have become involved again and would like to determine the exact length of my time in Scouting. Is it possible to find out the exact years and duration of my Scouting tenure?
The BSA national office does not maintain historical records of memberships in individual Scout units nor keep individual registration records. However, some local councils may maintain records of this type, or a chartered organization of a troop or pack could have kept records of unit membership.
In October we were hiking in pairs in a remote part of Arizona. Two of us were to meet the other two at a prearranged point, but when the second pair didn't arrive on schedule, we decided they must be injured on the trail. The two of us began to drive the 15 miles back to civilization. It was dark, and on the rocky and pitted road off the mountain, we got not one, but two, flat tires.After an hour and a half, still far from our destination, we had the incredible good fortune to flag down the only vehicle we had seen in eight hours. It contained Kevin Larson and his Boy Scouts. This well-prepared group repaired one tire and replaced the other and then escorted us down the mountain to where we could contact the authorities.
It turned out our missing hikers had been forced to turn back on the trail and had trekked 12 miles through a canyon in the dark to the campsite we had used the day before. It was there that we were all reunited at 11 p.m. It was a frightening and exhausting day, and all four of us would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the boys of Troop 99 from Chino Valley, Ariz., for postponing their camp-out to help some hikers in trouble.
Susan von Salis, Kim Brookes
Margaret Schaefer, Ruth Slater
One night my son called from college and said he was not sure how to answer the following question on his application for medical school: Most individuals live by a system of values and beliefs which serve as a guiding principle for daily living. What influences have been particularly important to you? (Please describe both values and influences.)
I pointed out to him that he had been living within an all-encompassing set of values he had learned many years earlier. The next day via e-mail he sent me his answer, which I would like to share with other Scouters:
I joined the Cub Scouts when I was 8 years old and earned my Eagle Scout [Award] by 13, one of the youngest in the district's history. At the time I did not realize what long-range effect and impact Scouting would have on me and my entire life. Back then it was just a cool thing to do, a group of friends to go on neat camping trips. I worked hard for my merit badges and higher ranks because I thought the activities were fun, not as training for a future life as an adult.
Part of being a Scout was to recite the Scout Oath and Scout Law before each meeting. We said them because our Scoutmaster required it, not because we really believed or disbelieved them. We weren't real serious about it; it was just a requirement to be a member of Scouting and therefore [be] with my group of friends.
But as I became older, and without even realizing it, I was living within the bounds set by the Oath and Law. This may sound corny or trite, but the Law's 12 points -- trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent -- and the Oath's emphasis on duty to God and country, helping others, and keeping oneself morally straight, encompass everything that is decent and good. I realize now that the Scout Law makes a great deal of sense as a code of daily conduct for today's modern society.
The beliefs that Scouting instilled in me steered me clear of drugs, which were rampant at my high school, and binge drinking every weekend at college ... Twice I went overseas... to represent the U.S.A. at jamborees. [Scouting's influence] helped me face the course load of a college engineering student, [and] it gave me the courage to stop a group of bullies from harassing a young retarded boy in my high school.
I think I will carry the influence of Scouting with me for the rest of my life. As a doctor, or as any individual, I cannot think of a better code of ethics to live one's life by.
Assistant Council Commissioner
Miami Valley Council
I have a question regarding the embroidered square knot for the Scout uniform that indicates the wearer has received the BSA Hornaday Award. The Insignia Guide (BSA Supply No. 33066A) describes it as "a Hornaday Award Knot." Does this mean the embroidered knot is only for the Hornaday medal (the national award) and not for the Hornaday badge (the local council-level award)?
Raymond N. Scarazzo
Scoutmaster, Troop 91
You are correct. The square knot (blue, green, and white on tan) is worn by a BSA member who has won one of the three national Hornaday awards: a gold medallion for an adult, and a bronze or silver medal for a youth. (The Hornaday badge is awarded to a youth member by a local council and is not a national award.)
The BSA's William T. Hornaday Award program for distinguished service in conservation began in 1914. Applications are submitted to councils, which award a badge to individual youth or a certificate to units. Local councils then submit to the National Council any applications deemed worthy of consideration for a national Hornaday medal.
Your fantastic article "Cut Fat, Eat Healthy" in the January-February 1998 issue was very much on target. This is an area of weakness [menu planning] for most troops. In many cases diets are high in fat and sugar because they are attained at a much lower cost than higher quality alternatives....
At jamborees and summer camps it is astounding to see many Scouters totally out of shape and carrying excess baggage around the waist....The life style lessons we are teaching the Scouts by our eating and exercise habits leave a great deal of room for improvement. Let's teach them a better way to eat while enjoying traditional Scouting activities....
Thomas D. Carr
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 177
It took most of Friday evening and all day Saturday to decorate the school cafeteria for our Cub Scout graduation -- a "crossover to Boy Scouting" bridge with a goldfish pond, lots of freshly planted flowers in urns, and two multicolored balloon arches.
Several parents helped with the decorating, but only a few Cub Scouts were present because we wanted everything to be a surprise. As we concentrated on the task at hand, an 8-year-old Cub Scout, Randall Beasley, walked up to Cubmaster Diana O'Teter and said, "You all must really love us to work so hard."
Later, Diana came to me with tears in her eyes and said, "That's why we do it -- for the boys!"
Assistant Cubmaster, Pack 30
For the past four years the Jamboree-on-the-Air has become an annual October project for Scouters and amateur (ham) radio operators in our county. I am both and had the privilege to oversee the 1997 event.
Approximately 250 Scouts and adults participated in the weekend camp. Activities included talking via amateur radio to other Scouts across the United States and in many foreign countries. The program also featured Radio merit badge activites, and 106 Scouts passed requirements.
It was a memorable experience, and I encourage all Scouters and ham radio operators to become involved with the hobby.
Gary Smith, KC7IHZ
The 41st annual Jamboree-on-the-Air, sponsored by the World Bureau of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, is scheduled for Oct. 17-18 this year. For more information and to order materials for participation, contact JOTA Coordinator, BSA International Division, S221, 1325 W. Walnut Hill Ln., P.O. Box 152079, Irving TX 75015-2079, (972) 580-2405.
During our pack's pinewood derby I noticed one boy alone, crying. His simple race car looked as though he had done the work without the hoped-for assistance or guidance from a parent or other adult.
When I asked him what was wrong, he told me he didn't have any of that "stuff" that the other boys were putting on their wheels to make their cars go faster. The graphite powder was for everyone, so we squirted some on his wheels. He then went on to win as the fastest car in the pack that night and received a large trophy.
He also received a much deserved and needed boost in self-worth and self-esteem that evening that may very well last a lifetime.
Cubmaster, Pack 130
Port Huron, Mich.
One of our pack's biggest events is the pinewood derby. We have 100 percent participation, along with most siblings and parents.
We hold weigh-in and registration a few days before the race, which reduces the chaos on race day. Races are held per den -- double eliminations -- so each boy gets to race at least twice.
The top two racers from each den are then entered in the pack championship, also double elmination. All the others are entered in our special "backwards race," to see which car goes fastest in reverse.
Between the den races and the pack championship is our famous open division, where all kid wannabes can build a car and race against other non-Cub Scouts. Whole families participate in this popular race-there is nothing like a dad going against his 4-year-old daughter in the finals!
Besides the championship trophy, we also present a "best of show" award to a non-race winner. (Along with the backwards race, this helps keep everyone around until the end.)
Next year I am going to suggest an "archives race" for cars from past years (for non-Scouts only, of course). After building more than 30 cars, I'm running out of design ideas.
Kent M. Marks
Committee Chairman, Pack 56
In December of 1996 I received my Eagle Scout Award, and nine days later I turned 18. I could have stopped then, but my Scouting experience had been a wonderful one and I wasn't ready for it to end. I became a junior assistant Scoutmaster for my troop and suddenly my Scouting experience [got even better].
I attended my first national Scout jamboree last year as the third assistant Scoutmaster of our council troop. The experience was unforgettable, but more importantly, the friendships I made with other adult leaders and with Scouts were special. These friendships led to me becoming a very active member of my Order of the Arrow lodge.
Scouting became even more a part of my life when I chose to continue on as an adult, and I enjoyed it even more as I was able to take advantage of opportunities I had missed as a youth.
I learned that Scouting is for both youth members and adults and that both can enjoy and grow from it. I encourage every Scout to stay involved in Scouting after age 18. It can be an experience that will literally last a lifetime.
Shaker Heights, Ohio
The March-April The Way It Was column (on younger boy programs prior to 1930 when the BSA officially began Cub Scouting) mentioned a pack started in 1921 by an Englishwoman, Pauline Chaulker, at the Bristol Congregational Church. I was 9 that year and joined the pack along with seven other boys.
We all attended the Federal Hill School across the street from the church. Miss Chaulker had originally asked only the five boys who were Congregationalists to become Cub Scouts, but they said "no" unless their three classmates--two were Methodists and I was a Baptist--could also join. After several conferences among church officials, they agreed to take in all of us.
Miss Chaulker did her job well. She taught us, with her British accent, to march properly on the historic Fedral Hill Green across from the church. She took us on field trips to the city's world-famous clock manufacturers and other factories.
On my 12th birthday, in 1924, I joined Troop 4 of the Bristol Baptist Church, one of the first troops in the city. I advanced to Eagle Scout and also served as first mate on the council's first Sea Scout ship. As an adult, I served in many council positions and received the Silver Beaver Award.
Scouting has been wonderful for me; many things I learned helped me over the years, and I had many friends. I am still registered (now with the Connecticut Rivers Council) and have more than 73 years of continuous service.
It would be almost 77 years, but I was never able to get credit for my years as a Cub Scout because Miss Chaulker's pack -- like all other pre-1930 Cub Scout activities -- was not an official BSA program.
Thanks again for the reminder of my start in Scouting.
Douglas A. Beals
I read with interest the articles in last September's issue on the activities of the Theodore Roosevelt Council's National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) chapter and the Explorer post within the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) chapter at the University of Illinois.
Unfortunately, many college-age Eagle Scouts do not have access to these resources. APO chapters are not found on every campus (and some that are do not give service to Scouting). Likewise, council NESA chapters don't seem to be that common.
Is there a way for individuals like me who are over the age of 18 to still be involved in Scouting? I am a member of my troop's committee, but I would like to be involved in something in which I can interact with people my age.
James K. Nelsen
Visit your local Scout council service center to see what possibilities are available. Many councils have NESA committees that meet several times a year and sponsor activities such as Eagle Scout recognition dinners, merit badge workshops, etc. A council's Order of the Arrow lodge is another place offering meaningful involvement for Eagle Scouts or any other adult OA member. Councils also have a variety of Venturing crews that use the new BSA program for girls and boys aged 14 through 20. With special focus on high adventure activities, the Venturing program features all the elements of the traditional BSA program enhanced with new advancement, leadership, and personal development opportunities.
I was a den mother for four years 25 years ago. I took my Cub Scouts all over the place; we worked together and also had good times together.
Now my grandson is a Cub Scout and I am working in Scouting again. Our Cubmaster needed a helper, and I volunteered. It is really a joy to see these young boys do their best.
Webelos Den, Pack 28
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